Yes, I am still trying to circumnavigate Cape Cod, in fact, 364 days ago Norm Kate and I paddled around the Monomoy peninsula and had to portage to get back to the put in. Since then a convenient gap has opened up and no more portaging is required !
I had been watching for decent weather and manageable surf for weeks and finally got both. Hot and sunny, light breeze and 1'-3' swell. Even the tides were perfect, an outgoing tide through the Monomoy Break and an incoming tide in the afternoon to make it easy to get into Nauset Marsh through the narrow cut there. One last check on the Shark Tracker website http://sharks-ocearch.verite.com/
showed that the two sharks tagged on the Cape last year were safely down vacationing in the Carolinas, so assumed the rest of the gang was down there too. I emailed Norm, who had done every other section with me, but unfortunately he had to work.
At 9.40 I shoved off from the Morris Island Causeway launch and headed south through familiar waters towards the break.
File comment: Outermost Harbor, now full of boats
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Nice to be paddling in a light wetsuit instead of the drysuit that was now packed away till the end of the year. I have been out here maybe a dozen times this year, really interesting to see the changes and shifting sandbars. I hugged the edge of the sandbars near the break so I could get an idea of the extent of the sandbars when I loaded the GPS track onto Google Earth later. After I got home I was surprised how huge they had become and that they nearly stretch across to North Monomoy. The water was really moving fast and a small rip had formed near the break, just big enough to surf on, but other than that it was pretty flat.
File comment: Small tidal rip
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Seals were everywhere, I tried taking some pics but they always dived under too quickly.
File comment: Fisherman and seal
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I tried Norms trick of paddling backwards to get photos but no luck. Once out in the open ocean there was a steady 2' swell and a slight breeze, excellent conditions. As I got level with Chatham Lighthouse I decided to take the inner route towards Pleasant Bay. As I would be spending most of the day following the coast I thought it would be a good idea to check out Chatham Harbor and exit through the cut that separates North Beach from Nauset Beach.
File comment: Chatham Lighthouse
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File comment: Chatham Bars Inn....(fancy hotel)
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The beaches were busy despite the water temp in the 50's and there were plenty of folks out "clamming" on the mudflats.
File comment: Clamming the Chatham Harbor Flats
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On North Beach, about five beach houses remained, looking precarious balancing on wood pilings. I thought they had removed them all a couple of years ago but the ones there now look in pretty good shape. They are owned by the National Seashore but are leased out every year, usually to the same families. Before the Pleasant Bay Cut opened up in 2007, it was possible to drive there from Orleans.
File comment: North Beach shacks
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Since entering Chatham Harbor I had been paddling against the outgoing tide so was glad to turn through the gap and ride the current back out into the open ocean again. Shortly after I stopped for a quick break on the deserted beach.
Back out in the ocean, the swell and slight breeze from the south made paddling easy. Parts of the beach were deserted , others lined with 4x4s and beachgoers. Seals were still everywhere, I don't think I went more than 15 minutes without seeing a seal all day. There were a few tense moments when large dark shapes swam under my kayak!! An hour or so after my rest stop, the beach was really busy so I knew I had reached the famous Nauset Beach, only another mile before heading into Nauset Marsh.
File comment: Nauset Beach
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The rising tide and gentle swell gave me a nice surf into the marsh, I stopped on a sandbar and called Deb to head out to collect me. I took a leisurely paddle through the channels arriving at the Hemenway Road landing 10 minutes before Deb. It was a perfect paddling day. I had paddled 16.2 nm ( 18.6 miles) between 9.30am and 2.40pm.
File comment: Hemenway Landing with Nauset break in background
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